Injury Spurs Trojan Senior To Push Harder

Mililani High’s Kaylee Torres has never needed extra motivation on the basketball court. Even so, she found some over the past few months as she rehabbed from shoulder surgery. “It was the first time I ever had to sit,” said Torres, a senior forward, “but it helped me to see the game from a different point of view. It’s been pretty tough to sit, but at the same time, it gave me the motivation to play better. It will make me hungrier, and we’ll have an even better season.”

Only two weeks into preseason, it’s been quite a beginning for the Trojans. A win over a good Maryknoll team in their opener was followed closely by winning the Lahainaluna Tournament on Maui. The Trojans defeated host Lahainaluna, Maui High and defending state champion Konawaena en route to winning the title.

Torres missed those games but was to make her debut last weekend when Mililani traveled to a Big Island tournament. Her addition to the lineup figures to be a real boost. Along with fellow senior starters Nayla Long and Kapili Amamalin, Torres has been a mainstay since arriving on campus. “I’ve been doing full practices, so I should be in good shape when I come back,” said Torres.

She actually had played an entire tournament over the summer with her shoulder ailing, but wasn’t then aware of the severity of the injury. “It wasn’t bad at first, and we thought it was just a bruised shoulder. I had to look at the upside of it. We found out early enough for me to come back (in time for her senior season). If we’d had to wait any longer … ”

Her return also should be a boost on the offensive end. A knack for creating opportunities for teammates is her forte. “Being a play-maker is the part I enjoy the most – I like creating a play, even if I’m not the one scoring.”

Playing fast is a phrase normally associated with football, but that mindset was among Torres’ off-season goals, she said. “I want to be able to pick up my speed and work on my game becoming more widespread so I can play multiple positions,” she explained. “I also wanted to work on my mental game. If you’re playing a team that is physically equal to yours, you have to be mentally smarter. You have to outplay them with your mind and not just your body.”

Mililani will be tested early on in its OIA slate, beginning with Wednesday’s game at Leilehua. It opens its OIA home schedule Saturday against defending league champion Pearl City. Torres is counting on veteran leadership to carry Mililani through. “This is the team we have the best shot with (to be a factor in the state tournament) all of these years,” she said.

“Our team chemistry is the best part of the team. When we play, I feel like we want it more than before. We’ve grown a lot in preseason, and it’s showing.”